Hair raising

Pom Boyd wanted to be a vet, but a spell oI looking after horses in County Westmeath tor slave wages soon cured her of that ambition. Instead, she put herselt on the stage and created a batch of comic characters who have brought her lame and, it not fortune, then at least a more comfortable income than the horse-minding. Boyd’s comic inventions from her show, The Mad One With the Hair, have become part oI Dublin lore: Mary O’Brien, the singer from Killalucker; Soullul John, the phone-box poet;

Cindy Clumph, the paranoid pain-in-the-neck New Yorker; and Angora Cardigan, the romantic novelist. She describes herself as ‘a tierce people-watcher’, raiding Dublin pubs and streetliie for characters, rellecting the peculiarly Irish attitude to Life, Death, Politics and the Universe.

Alter treading the boards of Dublin theatre in the early 80s, Boyd did a stint working in New York. Waitressing, posing as an artist's model, cleaning out apartments and acting with the Irish Arts Centre In Manhattan added to her material and experience, while she honed her periormance skills with two American theatre companies. ‘American comedians have a great energv, and they are incredibly sharp,’ she says. ‘I absorbed an attitude, a conlidence and lack oi inhibition there, a street toughness.’

As one oi a handiul oi comediennes on the Irish circuit, Boyd tinds there is an unconscious grey area in attitudes to women comics. ‘Women in Ireland are iunny, but they’re not perceived so by men. A funny woman is quite threatening. I’ve had to be confident to survive.‘ Even so, Boyd tears that the lack ol periormance outlets in Ireland will eventually send her to London. She’ll miss the Guinness and the dig-in-the-ribs Irish humour. (Ces Cassidy)

Pom Boyd (Fringe) The Counting House (Venue 66) 226 2151, 14 Aug—5 Sept, 3pm, £5 (£4).

Not quite


Hanoch Rosenn shuns labels. They do no justice to the artist’s skill, he explains. Instead they box him, presupposing his periormance, creating sell-deieating expectations. Mime artists, he notes wryly, are annoying, kiddies' stuil. They are the people to run away Irom, not towards. Classical mime has no place on his stage, so leave all preconceptions at the door.

In Breaking the Sound Barrier, Bosenn draws his audience into a visual web, always making connections between images and their social context. Thus a cockroach that dons a gas mask to escape deadly aerosol lumes becomes a metaphor lor Saddam Hussein’s Scud attacks on Israel and the govemment’s misleading assurance that the masks guaranteed protection. Few ol Rosenn’s sketches are as culture-specific, but all oI them impart a mixture oI satire and allegory, blending demanding'physical routines with video and music.

Visiting the Israeli theatre is an intense experience, Irequently disturbing, nearly always political. For his native audience, for whom his name is legend, Rosenn otters some

reliet irom the blows and punches traded on the mainstream stage, but even so, his work is not entirely escapist. ‘I can't divorce mysell Irom reality,’ he says. ‘The social context oi Israel is my context, so I'm not doing anything without a purpose, a point, a message to impart. It may be subtle, but it's always there'.

It is this combination oi shrewd comment and detailed observation which sets Bosenn apart lrom many others in his field. A slot at Montreal’s Just For Laughs, and an off-Broadway show that ran for six months boosted his international standing. Now he’s looking to Britain tor a potential new audience. ‘It's easy to be successlul in a small country like Israel,‘ he admits, ‘but I think my work is very lntemational, it can travel. I’m not trying to say I’m Marcel Marceau, but then I'm not sure I want to be.’ (Aaron Hicklin)

Breaking the Sound Barrier (Fringe) Hanoch Rosenn, The Roxy (Venue 27) 15 MM Sept, 5.30pm, £4 (£3).



A LITTLE OLDER Since its formation in 1986. Clyde Unity Theatre has become as vital a part of the nation‘s cultural life as high cholestrol food has been to its diet. Over the years, the company has gained awards and become accepted in the larger auditoria of Scotland, while still maintaining its original policy oftaking controversial theatre to the places which even uneontroversial theatre seldom reaches.

‘lt‘s brilliant in the housing schemes,‘ enthuses director and writer John Binnie. ‘lt‘sa great way of testing a play. lfthe play is shite the audience will tell you it‘s shite. And ifthey don‘t like it they'll leave.‘

Binnie has. in the past, written about the areas which have traditionally led audiences to such responses. But his accessible plays concerning homosexuality and working-class life have met with success in both community centres and theatres. He describes his latest work as a memory play. ‘It charts the relationship oftwo people over fifteen years,‘ he says. ‘through a girl who‘s trying to look at the past and understand it after suffering an accident where her memory has gonef

The play was fabricated

around the true experiences of the actors

and Binnie‘s own realisation that, at the age of 27. ‘The childhood

promises of adult stability ' are crap.‘ Nostalgia isn‘t

what it used to be for him either: ‘the adult

recollectionsofchildhood are distortedtoo.‘

(Stephen Chester) I A Little Older (Fringe) Clyde Unity Theatre,

I Theatre Workshop

(Venue 20) 226 5425. 15.


Clyde UDIW I and oppressed byit.‘ ' (Michael Balfour)

Aug. 1,3,SSept,5.30pm, £5(£3.50).



‘There is a claustrophobic atmosphere about the play,‘ explains Jonathan Lloyd, writer and director of Crumblies, one ofthree new plays being produced by the student theatre company, Cambridge Mummers. A nasty comedy for grown-ups, about three spinster sisters living in a loft, it features Meg who revels in gargantuan feasts, Peg who longs to dance again, and Heg who wishes they‘d all shut up. ’There is a cruel sense of humour in the dialogue between the characters,‘ says Lloyd, ‘which came from listening to some patients in a home I visited. Far from being sweet old ladies they bitched together and made rude jokes. I wanted to try and catch that vein in the play.‘

Following last year‘s The Burping Prince. Lloyd has written another children‘s play. Set in Glumton where laughter and fun are forbidden. Milly and her brother arrive looking for their mother. Milly has a problem though she isn‘t serious, and she can‘t help but laugh at everything she sees. Feasts of revelry are promised, as well as songs, jokes and Gravy Sneers who attempts to stop the audience from having a good time.

Magiclack by Sarah Phelps, meanwhile, is set in a sleazy nightclub and deals with the stories of seven disparate characters and their obsession with

. fame. ‘The theme is about how people react to being

I in a spotlight.‘ explains

I Phelps. ‘Whether they

I like it or are frightened

18, 20, 22, 2. 26, 28. 30

I Crumblles (Fringe)

Cambridge Mummers,

Theatre West End (Venue 126) 18, 20, 22, 25, 27,29 Aug, 1, 3, 5 Sept,5.30pm, £3 (£2.50).

I The Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Laughing (Fringe) Theatre West End (Venue 126) 18,20, 22, 25, 27,29 Aug, 1,3 Sept,4.35pm. £2.50(£1.50).

I Magchack (Fringe)

Theatre West End(Venue 126)17, 19, 21, 24,26,28,

31 Aug, 2, 4, Sept, 4.45pm,£4 (£3).



. Confusion may reign

supreme in Dragon theatre’s production of The Ramsays of Edinburgh , a new musical play by Charles Barron. Most will be aware of Allan Ramsay, influential early 18th century artist, but few will be acquainted with Allan Ramsay, wig-maker, philosopher, musician and the owner of Edinburgh‘s first library of pornography. These Allans are not one in the same person but son and father, and the generation gap was never more evident.

‘l‘d always been interested in the elder Ramsay,‘ says Barron, ‘then the idea of using his son as a foil came into it. The son is better known, but in some ways a less interesting character than the father. But it gave the story a whole lot of conflict because the older one was very Scottish and the younger one tended to be very much more English in his attitudes

and manner. The older

one was a couthy character, the younger

one tended to be a bit foppish and mannered.

‘The more I read about Ramsay, the more familiar a lot of the things he was saying became. l

was working on it last year and it all seemed totiein

very nicely with the discussion about Scotland in Europe. Although he wouldn‘t have recognised

the term Scottish

Nationalist, he saw

Scotland’s independence

in Europe as very

j important and realised ? that,underEngland,

Scotland would lose that identity.‘ (Philip Parr) I The Ramsay: 0t Edinburgh (Fringe) Dragon Theatre Company, Netherbow (Venue 30) 556 9579, 14 Aug—5 Sept, 3pm, £5 (£3.50).

The List 14 20 August 1992 31